The Forth Road Bridge has been closed to all traffic today for repairs following the discovery of a structural fault, causing significant queues on diversion routes.
The complete closure of the bridge came into force at midnight and it is not yet clear how long it will remain shut but Scotland’s transport minister Derek Mackay said it would be “not just today”.
Long delays have been reported on alternative routes during Friday morning’s rush-hour, with Traffic Scotland warning tailbacks on the A985 stretched for 11 miles at one point on the approach to the Kincardine bridge while there was a six-mile queue around the Clackmannanshire bridge.
ScotRail said it was adding extra carriages and staff for services on the rail bridge to and from Fife but asked the public to “only travel if necessary”.
Transport Scotland said the decision to implement the total closure of the bridge – which is also shut to cyclists and pedestrians – had been taken as a “precautionary step”.
The Forth Road Bridge operators tweeted that it was “to allow for essential maintenance”.
Mr Mackay told the BBC Good Morning Scotland programme today: “Ministers are meeting again by teleconference this morning with further advice on what the repair plan looks like.
“I’ll be able to say more about that later today. I don’t want to give a timescale only to change it within a few hours.
“It’s not going to be just today.”
Earlier this week, traffic on the bridge was restricted to a single lane in each direction, following the discovery of a defect to a steel component beneath the southbound carriageway.
It was found by engineers on Tuesday during a routine planned inspection.
Mr Mackay said on Thursday evening: “In light of the latest information and advice, we’ve been recommended to close the Forth Road Bridge.
“The reason for that is that further traffic will cause further damage to the bridge. Having identified the fault, therefore, the bridge has to be closed.
“I know that that causes significant disruption and I thank travellers and drivers for their patience but we have to close the bridge for reasons of safety to undertake investigation and repairs, and therefore I would advise the travelling public to avoid travelling if they were going to use the Forth Road Bridge.”